Claws are a great help to hamsters, not for defence, but more for grabbing food, cleaning themselves, and gathering nesting materials. If you have hamsters, then you probably met their sharp nails folding inwards or curling sideways.
If your hamsters often climb on you, you’ve also felt them. Hamsters running from hands to shoulders often tickles, but when it causes scratches, especially on themselves, then it’s time for nail care. This article will show you tips on hamster nail care safely.
Your hamster can’t trim their own nails very well. It’s something you have to do once in a while for them. Rule number 1 and the only rule, is never to attempt to cut a hamster’s nail with human nail clippers– there are just too many things that can go wrong, especially with this animal that moves too much and too quickly.
ALSO READ: Common hamster illness
Here are some excellent hamster nail care tips you should try if you worry that these long nails will cause injury to themselves.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT HAMSTER NAILS
Consider nail care as hamsters’ bi-weekly or monthly maintenance. An overgrown nail curve on itself eventually becomes painful for your pet in many ways, making a hamster unhappy, grumpy, and aggressive.
The nail can even grow into the hamsters’ paws, causing a massive toll on their health. Overgrown nails lead to pain and cause infection on a hamster’s feet or paws, so make sure you don’t let this happen by fostering them to groom.
Check out our hamster grooming and hygiene article to understand how to do it yourself.
They Grow Forever
Hamsters’ teeth and nails grow fast and forever. Hamsters’ nails never stop growing. Make sure to know that nail care is part of your obligation to your pet. Hamster nails can develop into a strong curve that can pierce right through your hamster paws.
However, make sure you do the necessary research before trimming your hamsters’ nails on your own. However, we highly recommend you seek help from an experienced vet to do this task. They have blood vessels in their toes that can be very painful if cut.
Hamsters Can’t Trim Their Nails By Themselves
Unlike hamsters’ teeth, which they can trim by chewing on anything rough, hamsters need your help to keep their nails at a healthy length. They naturally do this on their own by scratching on anything in their environment when they are young. But as hamsters grow older, they are more prone to overgrowth issues. This also happens to a healthy and young hamster.
Long Nails Can Be Dangerous
Hamsters put their front paws in their mouth a lot. They often do this while putting food in their mouth and using them to clean their face and groom fur. The worst case happens if they develop long nails; this can accidentally scratch their face or body.
Excessive long claws can also get easily stuck in their soft beddings. Pulling this apart can split the skin and nails of your hamster and ultimately cause painful bleeding.
Another thing to remember is if your hamster has exaggerated unhealthy long nails, these nails will get caught on fabric like your clothes, their sleeping den (if you have a fabric one), etc., causing them to injure their feet.
Long Nails Are Uncomfortable
Hamsters’ nails can grow as big as their feet when not trimmed regularly. You can often spot this when it’s causing imbalance when your hamster walks or runs. This is the worst feeling for a hamster and most probably leads to sore feet and a lousy mood or aggression.
They Grow Fast
Hamster nails grow fast due to hormonal imbalances. It’s most probably because of the thyroid, which can be pervasive for ageing. Apart from ensuring your hamster nails are kept trimmed to prevent them from misery, there is not much you can do.
How To Say If The Nails Are Too Long
If you noticed your hamster’s nails obviously too long, then that’s how simple it is to know if their nails need trimming. When you spot your hamsters’ claws twisting down below their paws, it only means trimming is required as soon as possible. You can use our planner to keep tabs on scheduling nail care.
Please don’t wait to see blood around their nails or paws before trimming your pets. If they have difficulty scratching or cleaning themselves, check their nails. Long nails also cause an awkward way to walk or run. It’s pretty easy to spot.
ALSO READ: How to keep your hamster happy
HAMSTER NAIL CARE: HOW TO TRIM HAMSTER NAILS
There are two ways on how to trim hamster nails we will discuss further. The first option for hamster nail care is less invasive: putting a few smooth rocks around the cage. The second option is to bring your hamster to the vet and have it trimmed. You can ask the vet to teach you how to do it yourself.
Place Rocks in the Cage
Build a nail care salon in the cage. Make an area a bit rocky. Running and playing around on rocks can help to keep their nails trimmed. Put up some river rocks and smooth pebbles, the large kind, so that the hamsters can’t and won’t try to put them inside their cheek pouches.
Rocks may also come in handy to prevent them from digging in the corners. They might probably sit there all night grooming themselves – hopefully, your hamster likes it as much as the others.
Moreover, make sure to scrub (with light soap, no scent) the rocks first to sterilize them and prevent your hamsters from catching parasites (don’t boil the stones as they might explode!). If you don’t feel safe, just take rocks from the outside, we highly recommend aquarium or terrarium rocks. Here’s a list of our recommended rocks for a hamster’s cage.
You may want to play with the rocks right under the water bottle since hamsters frequent that area. You can also design an entire corner or make a specific area to strategically force your hamster to pass through them daily.
REMEMBER: We don’t recommend mineral rocks
Go to the Vet
For the first time, bringing your hamster to the vet is best and have them trim the nails first. This is vital for two reasons:
Firstly, you don’t know your hamster very well yet, and most likely, they don’t try you that well either. This is dangerous as you don’t see how your hamster will react if you try to hold them, and keeping a hamster still is nearly impossible.
Second, you literally have no idea how to do this. It’s not like trimming your own nails or a human baby’s nails. You don’t want to accidentally cut your hamster in places that shouldn’t be cut. While if you have experience cutting the nails of your previous hamster/s, a new hamster is still again, don’t trust you yet (see reason #1).
How Often to Trim Hamster’s Nails
It depends on the growth speed, but the standard time frame is between 3-5 months. It’s important to do a nail check every 3 weeks and see how much you have before it’s time to trim those nails again.
Not all hamsters require nail trimmings that often. Some hamsters can very well well take care of their nails, but that’s rare. The simple rule is to check the nails from time to time and never to attempt to trim your hamster’s nails on your own for the first time. Bring them to the vet.
Place plenty of rocks in the cage to make the hamster nail care a more manageable process. The good-sized rock should be about the same size as your hamster, choose a slightly smooth and almost flat rock. Make sure to scrub the rocks, boil them, and then dry them very well before placing them inside the cage.
I hope you found this article about hamster nail care helpful. If you have more tips on keeping your hamster’s nails at a great and healthy length or have questions, let us know in the comment section below.